Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Jewel, A Gem No Longer...

The one-of-a-kind "Jewel of Orleans" is a gem no longer. The River front store in Disneyland's New Orleans Square that sells rare estate and other unique jewelry will be closing due to "tough economic" times on, oddly enough, April 15th. The store was privately run, which I didn't know, and they have decided to close up shop and focus on their other locations:

“Our Dear friends,

We want to extend our thanks for all you both have done to help us over the years. It is with deep sadness that we must tell you that we are closing our Disneyland location. We plan to close The "Jewel Of Orleans" on April 15th. Due to this tough economic time we have no choice but to focus on our two Northern California stores. We will continue to offer sales and special deals on our company website. We also encourage you to check us out on facebook. And please keep in mind that our Home store in San Francisco is not far from the new "Disney" museum!”

After the "Jewel of Orleans" closes Disneyland will have one remaining store like this that is not the gimmicky merchandise local that seems to choke the atmosphere right out of each land - and that is the Coat-of-Arms in Fantasyland. Selling plaques and shirts with family crests and sabers and swords and such. And I'd bet the Coat-of-Arms days are numbered too!

It's very sad to see these shops go. I think part of the charm of Walt's early Disneyland was that there were shops that evoked the spirit of each land like the flower or candle shop on Main St., or the old one-of-a-kind antique shop in New Orleans Square among others.

Given the times, reinforcing this kind of shopping that is half entertainment and nostalgia could go a long way. I'd love to see things like a baseball card shop on Main St. 0r an old time hat shop in Adventureland? Walt built the berm around Disneyland to keep the rest of the world out. Now there's Quicksilver and Roxy all over Adventureland, with the same stuff at any mall in America. - and you can buy any merchandise from the parks online anyway. Why not preserve some of the Gems that make Disneyland a diamond in the rough?


perfectly flawed said...

That's a disappointment. I didn't even know that there was a jewelry store in New Orleans Square.

But I'm with you over the Roxy/Quicksilver stuff, it's pretty bland stuff that you can easily find at the local shopping mall; they could at least have exclusive Disney designed clothing or something.

Anonymous said...

Its a real shame. And its true, very interesting coincidence that its closing on April 15th. I guess the fates have a sense of humor!

Yes, unique shops are very nice and hopefully Disneyland will still have some unique merchandise shops in the years ahead.

t said...

Do remember, it's the company that owns the jewelry store that is choosing to close it.
This is not Disney's decision.

Also, do remember the Crystal Shop is still in New Orleans Square. And they even went to a third party to keep the Magic Shop on Main Street. Not all is lost. ;)

JohnG31 said...

I agree 100%
The small shops in the park that sell unique merchandise are limited to the Magic Shop and the Coat of Arms.
The park can make lots of money by selling unique items and clothes but they choose to sell mostly generic items that make the park seem more like a mall. Hope things change for the better somehow. I love the idea of a main street baseball card shop, that would be fantastic.

Anonymous said...

Over the years I've bought many OOAK items in shops all over Disneyland. I especially looked forward to NOS and Frontierland(where they used to sell real Pendleton items, clothes, blankets, leather goods etc-pretty high end ones). That habit ended with the Pressler regime and the glutting of the tshirts.

What a stupid shame the rejiggering of the Park's specialness has been.

Cory Gross said...

I thought Disneyland USA was bad until I went to Tokyo Disneysea... I figured that, since Disneysea was so reputedly awesome in the attractions department, its stores must be mindblowing.

No such luck. It was worse than Disneyland. With the exception of a few characters they know they can merch the bejeebees out of (Chandu from Sinbad, Shikiri-utundu from Tower of Terror), every single store sells exactly the same merchandise. And when in Japan, whose atstes in souvenirs seems even more limited than North Americans', that means you get the exact same selection of fuzzy hats and tinned food items, perhaps with a few dinky cars thrown in. The attractions are astounding, but I was pretty choked to step into Nautilus Gifts and see nothing with the Nautilus on it.

That said, their Disneyland was a mite better. Adventureland had a pretty good suite of stores that sold the same "native crafts" you could buy at a mall here, divided by region. There was even a Japanese store, in case you went to Tokyo and somehow never made it to Asakusa or the airport.

Suffice it to say, I do wish that there was more diversity and uniqueness in the stores and the merchandise they offer. It's suprising how much well-merchandised stores "sell" the theme. Plus, like, if there is anywhere in the world where I figure I should be able to go to find the most obscure Disney characters beatified on some figure or postcard or plush, it should be Disneyland. You'd think...

Steve the fisherman said...

I recall visitingthis shop 20 years ago, and enjoying that everything was unique. The staff even knew about their wares! If it came from China, it was Chinese. I don't cast blame because I have come to see the world as a place that adapts, and sadly we are in an era of mass merchandise crap. I hope future generations will be wiser than the elite that govern today.

bsmith13 said...

I am sorry to see the Jewel of Orleans go.

I would much rather have seen the Coat of Arms shop go. Heraldry is one of my hobbies, and the Coat of Arms shop in DLR is referred to by most Heraldry hobbyists as a "bucket shop", because they sell COAs by the bucket. These shops sell unsuspecting customers a coat of arms based on their last name. Most people don't understand that just because your name is "Jones" doesn't mean that you are entitled to a COA awarded to someone whose name was also "Jones". Coats of Arms are closely related to genealogy, and the shop in DLR is simply not equipped to do your genealogy right then and there to see if you are related to the original bearer. Furthermore, a coat of arms is not awarded to a family, but to an individual, and by the heraldry laws of the countries that still support heraldry, only one person can bear a specific coat of arms at a time.

I realize that we are Americans, and that we have no laws that regard the rights of those who bear heraldic arms, but a little bit of education in the name of cultural sensitivity is never a bad thing.

Anonymous said...

Magic shop crystal shop and coat of arms are all
unique not Disney run and void of carbon copy Disney and mall merchandise. You should update your article because people who don't automatically check your comments will be mislead.

Anonymous said...

It's sad to see unique shops go but I go to disney parks to look at disney merch. If I want a piece of jewelry I'll go to my local Zales and probably buy it for less. I think most people who go to Disney parks want something that represents Disney.

robster16 said...

On a sidenote, the trailer for "Rapunzel"/"Tangled" has leaked. The very rough cut that was used for those online entertainment survey's that is. And it looks very cool. The trailer obviously target's the male/teen demographic but the scenery, animation and look of the film are already stunning, even in unrendered form. The comedy is witty and clever and doesn't rely on bodily functions to score. The sidekicks like Pascal and Maximus are fun and the dynamic between Flynn and Rapunzel is cute. She seems really bubbly, curious, shy yet adventurous and she sure knows how to work that hair. In one bit she tosses around Flynn when he invades her tower and beats him up using her own strands of hair before tying him down into a chair, where Flynn tries to use his charm to get out "here comes... the smoulder"


Eric said...

I worked in New Orleans Square merchandise from 1978- 1982. I can tell you that on day one it was explained to me that the area shops were not meant to make money, they were for show. Which I can attest to - once I became lead and was in charge of cashing out the shops at the end of the night, several of them would be lucky if they made $100, even on a summer day.

We were considered a unique, boutique area of shops. We carried NO Disney merchandise, no plush (except on Grad Nights, when the shops were opened even though few kids ever ventured in). We had our own shopping bags (gold with a pattern of black etchings of the Square architecture). Items that were too large to be bagged were taken and boxed and then wrapped with New Orleans Square wrapping paper (which matched the bags), sealed with gold foil New Orleans Square medallions, and delivered to the front gate to be picked up upon leaving the park.

The Jewel of Orleans was originally the Perfume Shop. The interior of the shop was designed around the hand painted mirrors, which Walt and his wife picked up in Europe. Woman (and only women) were trained in the art of custom blending perfumes. Each custom perfume was entered in an old style ledger with the guest's name. The ledger dated back to when the store opened in 1967 and even if you hadn't been in the store in ten years, you could come back in and get your original perfume re-blended.

Around the corner was the hat shop, with cast members trained to make elaborate period style hats. The store made money only because it was also the only store in the Square that sold cigarettes and sundries, which were kept out of sight under the counter so as not to spoil the theming.

Across from that was the Gold Shop, which went through a couple of different incarnations while I was there.

The old Gourmet Shop was probably the only shop in the Square that actually made money, but still, it carried no Disney branded merchandise.

Across from that was the Crystal Arts glass blowers, a sister shop to the one on Main Street. It was the only outside vendor in the Square.

The old Silver Shop was usurped years ago to expand Cafe Orleans kitchen. It featured an enormous Revolutionary War era display case that Walt had purchased. It was so large it had to be moved in before the walls were finished. It made money selling silver chains and charms, but we carried everything up to and including $4000 sterling punch bowl sets.

The old arcade was converted into Pieces of Eight during my tenure, and there was a lot of dismay at the time that it carried such cheap merchandise. The old timers who worked in the Square, many dating back to when it opened, said Walt would never have allowed that shop to open.

And finally, One of a Kind was truly an amazing shop. A real antique store, it had it's own buyer, Hildegarde. She traveled the world buying antiques specifically for this one shop. The quality of the antiques was so good that several times the shop was cleaned out by Mrs. Disney herself (She was Mrs. Truyens at the time, and we were NEVER to refer to her as "Mrs. Disney" - she didn't go back to using Disney until after her second husband passed away). She'd board the Lilly Belle backstage, and disembark in the Square for lunch at Club 33 and some shopping.

It was a real magical time to work in the Square. Before it became the Dream Suite or the Disney Gallery, the old Disney family apartment upstairs was, for the years I worked there, The Tokyo Disneyland headquarters. Tokyo Disneyland was in the process of being built, and the upstairs area was where all the future Tokyo executives came to get a crash course in Disney style park management. We always had to make sure the Square was in top form because of the constant stream of Disney executives filing through.

It was a great time to work there. I'm glad I missed the Eisner era.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I know you appreciate unique stores in a Disney theme park, but nobody wants them. The message is loud and clear. The public cannot afford it and probably doesn't value it either.

This doesn't necessarily mean that ALL unique products doesn't sell, but fewer are selling and fewer are buying.

Personally, these items are window shopping merchandise. They are good for browsing. On occasion when I buy them, I will lose my interest after taking them home. They end up in a box sooner or later and forgotten. My garage is full of worthless stuff, where some might retain sentimental value. I intend to clear it out soon to make room for other junk currently in the house. The cycle continues. Maybe you'll find it on eBay or thrift shop.

Hannah Barbontana said...

I never even knew this store was there. Disneyland has so many places to be explored. Too bad this one won't be there very much longer.

Anonymous said...

The Tobocco Shop on Main Street became "Great American Pastimes" and sold baseball cards (and later became a music store)